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Friday, 29 June 2018

Messy Bessy: the sustainable social enterprise

Having been inspired by her visit to the Delancey Street Foundation in 2007, Krie Lopez founded Messy Bessy, a line of natural, biodegradable, non-toxic home, and personal care products, as a way to empower and help sexually abused girls in the Philippines. Krie considers Messy Bessy as an enterprise which improves the lives of at-risk young adults in their community. Hence, she affirmed Messy Bessy’s positioning not as a profit-generating machine, but as an umbrella for breakthrough initiatives that provide education, on-the-job-training, work ethic enhancement, and values formation.

Started off by launching Help Ourselves Programme (HOP) in 2012, the programme then was able to partner with Manila Business College and supported college scholars. The founders then established the HOUSE Foundation (Helping Ourselves through Sustainable Enterprises) in 2015 to broaden the scope of providing education, employment, and rehabilitation for at-risk-formerly abused, trafficked, incarcerated impoverished-young adults which received most of the financial source from operating Messy Bessy as a social enterprise.

To date, Messy Bessy was able to support 26 college graduates since 2012. Though the programme has helped many disadvantaged young adults in their past years, the story of Rose was the one that Krie would never forget. "One of our first graduates, Rose, she had a very sad childhood because she was sexually trafficked at a very young age and she went through a lot of abuse after that. She came to the scholarship through her previous institution. Due to the stigma and pressure from her schoolmates, she wasn't able to finish her high school degree," said Krie. "With our help, she was able to finish high-school by doing the in-house program with us which was equivalently certified. She then moved on to college with our program, and she finished college with us. Rose is now working with an organisation that deals with trafficking." Krie also added that, "I have to admit that she was the girl I doubted in the beginning whether she could even enroll in a college."

Since 2015, Messy Bessy has joined the SAP Social Sabbatical programme and has hosted two international and one local team to work with them. The SAP Social Sabbatical initiative is a portfolio of pro bono volunteering programs where highly diverse teams of SAP employees solve strategic challenges of non-profits and social enterprises focused on bridging the digital divide. "The SAP Social Sabbatical programme has come and helped us three times since 2015. We have the international team joining us which they were working on the demand forecasting tool. The second group was working on our export roadmap and the final one, which was the local group, was working on our business processes which we are about to roll out very soon," said Krie.

One of the most important things that Krie ensured when hosting volunteer groups from the SAP was the engagement with the young adults. "We always make sure that our volunteers get to interact with our young adults. A lot of the engagement was more social. However, we make sure they get to interact as professionals also in the discussions and meetings," said Krie. "It is very enriching for both ends, especially for those who were from abroad. They were very happy to be working with these inspiring and resilient kids. On the other end, our kids also very surprised that these professional from a prominent company were very warm and welcoming for them."

Krie also revealed the working atmosphere with the SAP volunteers in the Social Sabbatical programme was beyond her expectation. “We are such a culture fit in the sense that SAP people are so warm and so people oriented which is exactly how we are here. We always feel like we have known each other for a very long time," continued Krie.

Despite Bessy Messy's huge appreciation for SAP assistance, Krie has also revealed what she hopes to see more in the SAP Social Sabbatical programme. “I know that four to six weeks we had was a lot to ask for, but I would love a longer and deeper engagement, to be honest. I really see the benefit of it and it was really helpful," said Krie.

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